Saturday, April 24, 2010

Walking a "Faint Line"

I remember lying in bed one afternoon after arriving back home from a week-long vacation in San Diego. Suddenly, I had the "feeling" that I might be pregnant. Since we had been trying for some time, I jumped out of bed, ran to my supply of pregnancy tests (as I took them often) and immediately went through the "pregnancy potty procedure". Within seconds, the test showed positive!

My second pregnancy was a different story. While we had been talking about having a second child, we were anticipating the wait of becoming pregnant to be just the same as it was the first time. For weeks, I awaited the arrival of darling Mother Nature. After being two weeks late, I took a pregnancy test which showed negative. At three weeks late, I took another pregnancy test which also delivered a negative pregnancy sign. Finally, at four weeks late, I took yet another pregnancy test and it slowly showed a positive. When I arrived at my first doctor's visit, I was seven weeks pregnant and the home pregnancy tests almost never admitted to it.

So what happens when you are in that type of situation or when you receive a "faint line" on your home pregnancy test? Dr. Tracey Telles, obstetrician and fertility specialist, explains:

That depends. For a home pregnancy test to give you a positive result, your body has to be making a detectable level of the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). But not all pregnancy tests can detect the same amount of hCG; a sensitive test is one that turns positive even if a low amount of the hormone is present. The more sensitive a pregnancy test is, the earlier it will show a positive result.

If the test you're using is only faintly positive, it may not be very sensitive. If you still have the box, it should say somewhere what the test's sensitivity is — the lower the number, the better the test. For example, a test with a sensitivity of 20 IU/L (milliInternational Units per Liter) will tell if you're pregnant sooner than a test with a sensitivity of 50 IU/L. A good rule of thumb is that the more expensive a pregnancy test is, the more sensitive it's likely to be. But you should still read the side of the box to see what the kit says.

Many women get a faintly positive result if they're not as far along as they expected. If this turns out to be the case for you, taking another test in two or three days should give you more exact results. Most home urine tests should be positive by the time your period is due if your body is making the normal amount of hCG.

If your test is faintly positive for a few days and then turns completely negative, you may have had a very early miscarriage. Experts estimate that about 20 to 30 percent of all pregnancies end in miscarriage, so unfortunately this is very common.

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